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MPAA Kills California Anti-Pretexting Bill

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the revealed-to-be-playing-dirty-pool dept.

Privacy 299

IAmTheDave writes "A California anti-pretexting bill that got unanimous support in the state senate with a vote of 30-0 was struck down after heavy last-minute lobbying by the MPAA. The bill aimed to make deceptive 'pretexting' (lying) to gain personal information on another person illegal. The MPAA told legislators 'We need to pose as someone other than who we are to stop illegal downloading,' and thus killed the bill when it came up for a final vote. California passed a much narrower bill that 'bans the use of deceit to obtain telephone calling records, and nothing else.' In a final 'think of the children' bid, the Califonia Association of Licensed Investigators also opposed the bill, saying it needed to be able to use pretexting to help find missing children, among other things."

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299 comments

History of Violence (4, Informative)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065658)

To paraphrase Ed Harris in the movie, History of Violence, "...how come the MPAA is so good at killing bills?"

The answer is that succesful politicians are not developed, they're bought.

Best democracy money can buy (3, Insightful)

ph1ll (587130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065976)

I'm not an American nor do I pretend to understand American politics but how can a vote swing from 30-0 to the other way?

And people say the European Commission is corrupt...

Re:Best democracy money can buy (3, Informative)

CliffEmAll (794568) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066528)

The Legislative system in United States governments at the federal and state levels have two separate bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. In order to become law, bills must pass both houses. What happened here is that the Senate wrote and passed a bill, which was voted down by the House.

Re:Best democracy money can buy (2, Informative)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066576)

"The Legislative system in United States governments at the federal and state levels have two separate bodies"

As long as you remember that some states do not have two separate bodies.

Re:Best democracy money can buy (5, Funny)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066708)

You misspelled "some state". Hope this helps, corn boy.

Re:Best democracy money can buy (3, Informative)

idobi (820896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066634)

The Legislative system in United States governments at the federal and state levels have two separate bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. In order to become law, bills must pass both houses. What happened here is that the Senate wrote and passed a bill, which was voted down by the House.

That's not even close. The bill passed in committee 30-0, and was voted down by the full assembly 33-27. We're talking about California legislators, not the US Congress.

Re:History of Violence (3, Insightful)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065986)

This may be bad for filesharers, but it's a victory for social engineers everywhere. Do you really want to live in a state where lying is illegal?

Re:History of Violence (3, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065988)

To paraphrase Ed Harris in the movie, History of Violence, "...how come the MPAA is so good at killing bills?" The answer is that succesful politicians are not developed, they're bought.

True. Although do bear in mind this is California, home of the movie industry. I'd be interested in seeing if they were quite as successful in getting a similar bill nuked in, say, Massachussets.

Re:History of Violence (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066414)

True. Although do bear in mind this is California, home of the movie industry. I'd be interested in seeing if they were quite as successful in getting a similar bill nuked in, say, Massachussets.

Speaking of California and the movie industry, does anyone know if we're hearing anything from any of these actors/actresses who speak out so often about social injustice? What's the Governator's opinion on this? I haven't seen anything. I wonder if maybe it's too close to their own pocketbook (maybe it's true about the love of money... [urbandictionary.com] ) or maybe it's just peer pressure from within their social circles?

Re:History of Violence (3, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066578)

Speaking of California and the movie industry, does anyone know if we're hearing anything from any of these actors/actresses who speak out so often about social injustice? What's the Governator's opinion on this? I haven't seen anything. I wonder if maybe it's too close to their own pocketbook (maybe it's true about the love of money...) or maybe it's just peer pressure from within their social circles?

Those idiot actors speak out on social injustice when it gives them photo ops with starving children. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Angelina Jolie.

Re:History of Violence (2, Insightful)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066588)

"An honest politician is one that stays bought" - RAH

MPAA needs to stop illegal downloading? (4, Insightful)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065666)

I never realized the MPAA was a law enforcement organization.

I wonder what else they need in order to enforce laws. Prisons? Armed agents? The power to arrest and seize property?

Re:MPAA needs to stop illegal downloading? (3, Funny)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065922)

Prisons? Armed agents? The power to arrest and seize property?

Stop giving them ideas! (not that they can't already do that via other means...)

Re:MPAA needs to stop illegal downloading? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066140)

>>>"Stop giving them ideas! (not that they can't already do that via other means...)"

you mean from that huge database of "ideas" of which they are trying to stop people from copying?

Re:MPAA needs to stop illegal downloading? (1)

yiantsbro (550957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066026)

There is an argument that just because one group does something it does not exactly give another group the right to do something that is wrong. For instance, just because the MPAA/RIAA get a tax/charge/fee applied to items that can be used to copy music--with the reason being that it will be used to illegally copy music--it does not give the consumer of those items the right to actually illegally copy the music. So here, just because people are illegally copying music it does not give the MPAA/RIAA the right to impersonate (lie) about who they are to snoop into your private life. The double standard here is just crap.

Big time! (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066398)

I say that "pretexting" should be ILLEGAL. They can work through the legal system to "protect" their "property".

If your car was stolen, the cops would take a very unfavourable view of you impersonating a cop in order to retrieve it.

Re:Big time! (0)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066696)

Someone mod this guy up please, it's an excellent analogy, and one that seems to have passed the California legislators by.

What if someone got the phone records of lawmakers (2, Interesting)

calcutta001 (907416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066496)

Like in the movie "Enemy of the Sate", someone should pretext as the lawmakers and get their phone records. Maybe this will make them understand the gravity of the situation.

Any ideas ?

Need a "Right to be Left The Fuck Alone" Amendment (2, Insightful)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065670)

It's the only way to make sure the Legislators even PRETEND TO TRY to give a shit about us.

We're fucked.

Whatever happened to "secure in their persons... (1)

emil (695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065790)

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Evidence that is obtained by any party that does not follow this rule should be inadmissible!

Re:Whatever happened to "secure in their persons.. (2, Interesting)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065898)

As we've seen, it's been proven to be not broad enough for our needs.

How about this:

Amendment $NEXT_AMMENDMENT_NUM

The right of The People to Personal Privacy and Security and Control of any information or data directly created by them, or by their indirect acts shall not be infringed by either any Governmental Body, Federal, State, or Local,, OR ANY ARTIFICIAL LEGAL ENTITY created by any act of any Governmental Body.

(That should take care of the damned Corporations. )

The only problem with that... (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066090)

The only problem with that is that it will never happen for the same reasons [usconstitution.net] that this bill was killed: it requires politicians to do what is in the best interests of the citizens, instead of what is in the best interests of their reelection campaign (read getting money).

Re:The only problem with that... (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066416)

The only problem with that is that it will never happen for the same reasons that this bill was killed: it requires politicians to do what is in the best interests of the citizens, instead of what is in the best interests of their reelection campaign (read getting money).

The only problem? His amendment is so broadly worded that it would probably outlaw credit histories as well. Do you lend money to people? Is this something you'd condone?

Likewise, there were probably very compelling reasons not to pass this bill but we won't hear about them because of the four letter word known as the MPAA. Because they got involved I predict the chances of this being a fruitful discussion on /. at 100 to 1 against.

Re:The only problem with that... (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066470)

I stand corrected.

Re:The only problem with that... (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066604)


The only problem? His amendment is so broadly worded that it would probably outlaw credit histories as well. Do you lend money to people? Is this something you'd condone?

Oh, because the credit history companies have just done an excellent job of protecting our credit histories and protecting us from fraud!

Is this something I'd condone? Hell yeah!

Re:Whatever happened to "secure in their persons.. (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066076)

You can also leverage the information you got illegally to find a legal path for how you knew it. A private investigator may illegally tap your phone, which is inadmissible. When he hears where your illicit rendezvous is, he'll take perfectly admissible pictures of you there.

It's not legal, but unless you catch them at it, you can't do much about it. And they've still got the pictures, which are still admissible evidence.

Re:Whatever happened to "secure in their persons.. (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066270)

Last I checked, this was called the fruit of a poisoned tree/vine (or something along those lines). Anything legally gained from an illegal event is not admissable in the courts. Proving that they started off illegally will be the problem though.

Re:Whatever happened to "secure in their persons.. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066348)

Last I checked, this was called the fruit of a poisoned tree/vine (or something along those lines). Anything legally gained from an illegal event is not admissable in the courts. Proving that they started off illegally will be the problem though.

The fruit of poisoned tree and rules of evidence generally only apply to law enforcement or people acting on their behalf (i.e: informants). If I break into your house to rob you and in the course of doing so discover evidence that implicates you in a murder then turn myself into the authorities, odds are that they will be able to use the evidence that I discovered at trial, whereas if they had broken into the house themselves it would generally not be admissible.

Of course if the cops put me up to breaking into your house to begin with then it's also not admissible -- I was acting as an agent of law enforcement and they presumably know better.

Re:Whatever happened to "secure in their persons.. (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066338)

*SIGH* Back to Intro Poli Sci 101. The Constitution and its Ammendments apply ONLY to the regulation of the behavior of the US Federal Government and the actions of the States. Individuals (including corporations) are held to a much looser set of rules. And with the actions of the SOCTUS relating to so-called "poison fruit" testamony and evidence, the 4th Ammendment is on its way out too.

Already exists... (2, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066018)

It's not a bill, but a party. The Libertarian Party [lp.org] is all about the government leaving us alone as much as possible. If that's what you believe, then you should vote Libertarian.

Re:Already exists... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066494)

It's not a bill, but a party. The Libertarian Party is all about the government leaving us alone as much as possible. If that's what you believe, then you should vote Libertarian.

Too bad they take it to the other extreme. Zero regulation of businesses, the complete abandonment of any sort of social safety net and privatising everything are just a few of the disagreements that I have with the Libertarian Party.

Still, I greatly respect their stance on civil liberties. If you could take that plank of their platform and mold it with some of what the actual Democratic party stands for then you might have something that would convince me to change parties. And as a random thought, I really wish the Democrats would start focusing on pulling Libertarians away from the Republican party (most of them are completely disgusted by Bush) instead of focusing on the religious right nutjobs.

Re:Need a "Right to be Left The Fuck Alone" Amendm (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066112)

"Need a "Right to be Left The Fuck Alone" Amendment"

We have those rights. Only that most people are against one or more of them on the grounds of "Protecting the children" or "Minorities" or "Public Safety" or .....

Next time the government says you can't have This or That kind of gun, nor carry one without permission of the government, stand up and say "LEAVE ME ALONE" along with the few remaining gun toting wackos. See where your "rights" are.

Live Free or Die!

Re:Need a "Right to be Left The Fuck Alone" Amendm (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066574)

We're fucked.

Look on the bright side. They just made sure social engineering to obtain personal information on politicians perfectly legal. I think it's time to show them what legal advantages they have given their people. Anyone care to open a public database online in California with government officials personal information? Start with judges, city councel, and the like. Think of the children. Listing all the children's DOB, SSN, school, home address, IM username, ISP, IP address, and such should be a good wake up call to the error they just enabled.

from 30-0 to 27-33? (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065674)

Seems odd when a committee (in this case, an entire senate) deems a law pragmatic enough it goes up for vote with a unanimous (30-0) sendoff and subsequently because of special interest (MPAA allegedly) the final vote skews not only away from unanimous but actually flips the sentiment (bill loses 27-33).

Consider the gist of the bill (from the article):

The bill, SB1666, was written by state Sen. Debra Bowen, and would have barred investigators from making "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements or representations to obtain private information about an individual, including telephone calling records, Social Security numbers and financial information. Victims would have had the right to sue for damages.

This means the MPAA and others argued for the right to make "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements...! Amazing!

There are legitimate ways for the entertainment industry to obtain data when prosecuting alleged piracy activity. This isn't one of them. So, the practice (pretexting) remains legal and the MPAA prevails in yet another seamy side of big business buying milquetoast government.

I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update... ostensibly, though I can't confirm it because of industry pressure on Creative -- it was one of the features I bought it for.

The threat continues to loom for providers of excellent technology like TiVo to rein in their features, also ostensibly under pressure.

The better the technology gets, the less they want us to use it.

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065690)

This means the MPAA and others argued for the right to make "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements...! Amazing!

Does this cover the lawyers working for them too? ;)

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (4, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066024)

I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update... ostensibly, though I can't confirm it because of industry pressure on Creative -- it was one of the features I bought it for.

This is one of the best examples yet of why one should not upgrade firmware on a device unless there is an immediate need for an update.

I should think that removing a feature from a purchased item after the fact is grounds for a lawsuit, especially if the packaging and manual list it as a feature. I'd suggest a class action suit demanding the functionality be restored or a refund of your money. Hey, everyone else is suing someone, let's get in on the action!

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066122)

"I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update"

Make them fix it or pay to take it back, as it is now damaged (through their fault, and not yours)

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066150)

This means the MPAA and others argued for the right to make "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements...! Amazing!
[Sarcasm]Well, to be fair, the MPAA only gets to do that with regards to everything but your phone records

I'm glad the State Legislature could strike such a fair and balanced compromise between the needs of its citizens and the needs of the MPAA[/Sarcasm]

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066180)

"I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update"

Check this out [i4u.com] : it says that Creative fixed it back.

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17066378)

"I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update"

Check this out [i4u.com] : it says that Creative fixed it back.
Hey thanks! Will go get the update!

-yagu

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066456)

Of course, this firmware update is the one in which a robot voice now intones "DO NOT STEAL MUSIC" every 11.4 seconds during the listening of MP3 files. But hey, you can at least record FM radio!

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

yakumo.unr (833476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066284)

I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update... ostensibly, though I can't confirm it because of industry pressure on Creative -- it was one of the features I bought it for.

1.60.01 firmware brings back this ability.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061120-82 55.html

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066562)

Its possible that the PI lobby had a large effect as well. I can understand their need. Personally I'm all for the sure its illegal, but who's going to prosecute you for rescuing a child standard. Some laws frequently get broken in order to do the greater good, so what...

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066678)

Um, no.

Scratch that, _hell no_.

You've been watching too many cop shows. "Getting off on a technicality" is what keeps the police honest, and needs to be vigorously defended.

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

archen (447353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066582)

This means the MPAA and others argued for the right to make "false, fictitious or fraudulent" statements...! Amazing!

I would implore California residents to keep track of who actually voted this down, then bring it up during the next re-election round. Maybe just send it to the competing party. Part of what's wrong with election campaigns is the extremely short memory people have, in which they don't remember all the crap their representatives actually did during their term.

Re:from 30-0 to 27-33? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066660)

I've lost the ability to record FM on my Creative Zen with my last firmware update... ostensibly, though I can't confirm it because of industry pressure on Creative -- it was one of the features I bought it for.

If the feature is broken on the player, send it in to the manufacture to have it repaired. Post the results online in any review. Don't accept no quietly. Thank you for posting that tidbit here. I'll keep watching to see if it's a fluke with your unit or something worthy of a class action.

It's bad enough that the police can do this... (2, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065688)

But now companies and PIs can too? Can the average guy 'pretext' as well, or will he get punished? I can't really tell from the article.

Makes me want to break more laws....let's see...what can I do that has a low chance of getting caught...

Re:It's bad enough that the police can do this... (1, Funny)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065750)

Oh, I know this one!

You could become a Senator and murder someone in a 'car accident'

Or, you could become President and commit outright treason by subverting the Constitution, and have conservatives who are theoretically outraged by this sort of thing kissing your feet in thanks.

In short: become a politician

Re:It's bad enough that the police can do this... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065844)

My business law professor (who was a lawyer, obviously) back in college said something that I think fits well with this. He said basically that it's better to be a businessman than a lawyer, because lawyers work for businessmen.

I think you could say it's better to be a businessman than a politician for much the same reason.

Re:It's bad enough that the police can do this... (1)

RetepMc (814214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065874)

I think you should try "pretexting" as one of the morons who voted this down and see if that has a low chance of getting you caught.

Re:It's bad enough that the police can do this... (4, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065954)

You've hit upon something which I've long believed is important:

Legislators rarely suffer from the effects of their actions, while the rest of us are slowly whittled down.

We've got a huge percentage of our population in the prison system, in a 'free country' where putting something into your body is considered a criminal act.

This all falls under the theory that you cannot rule a free man, but if you make SOME aspect of every free man's life technically illegal, you can keep them in line.

Re:It's bad enough that the police can do this... (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065938)

Can the average guy 'pretext' as well, or will he get punished?

People have done this for decades. People pretend to be someone other than who they are to find out where a spouse is having lunch when they suspect an affair.

I see nothing wrong with this. The right to privacy is not a right to not get caught.

LK

It leads to distrust, I think. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066138)

After reading this article, I am less inclined to trust a stranger or someone I don't know well. I will assume they are lying to me and I will not help them for fear of being taken advantage of.

Shit like this degrades society...smells like 'ends justify the means' to me and I don't like it.

Re:It's bad enough that the police can do this... (1)

B11 (894359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065940)

If you or I "pretext," then its hacking and social engineering and we get thrown into pound-me-the-ass prison.

Legality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17065716)

Either fraud is illegal or it is not. I am sick of the government carving out exceptions for things for itself and its cronies.

Re:Legality (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066012)

Either fraud is illegal or it is not. I am sick of the government carving out exceptions for things for itself and its cronies.

IANAL, but I can read and it's not fraud to lie about your name.

LK

my thoughts (2, Insightful)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065726)

I don't see a problem with pretending to be someone else, as long as you have the appropriate licenses/credentials.

i.e.:
  Pretending to be a everyday/normal person - fine
  Pretending to be a Police Officer without being in the employ of a police agency, or a CPA without the actual degrees and licenses: bad

I do not agree with falsifying data either:
  "I downloaded these files from the user's hard drive"
  if you did this and have absolute proof - fine
  if you didn't do this and/or "fudged" the numbers, you need jail time.

what parts of these, with respect to other laws, are impacted by this bill and the changes made?

Re:my thoughts (4, Interesting)

MrTester (860336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065978)

Oh really? So its OK if I call your phone company pretending to be you and get a copy of your phone records?
Its OK if I call your Satelite/cable provider and get a list of all of the services you signed up for?
Its OK if I call you bank and get a list of all of your acounts and their balances?

The problem is not that these people are pretending to be someone they are not, the problem is that they are pretending to be some one in particular and useing that to gain information they could not otherwise gain.

What the MPAA has just done is say "There is information out there that we cant gain through normal legal channels, so we want to be allowed to gather the information through semi/non-legal channels" and the governemnt said "Oh, OK".

Re:my thoughts (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066058)

well, there are credentials to be a specific person - birth certificates, social security cards, DNA, fingerprints, etc.

I do *NOT* agree with pretending to be a specific person. So it does affect that then? Yuck.

Re:my thoughts (1)

MrTester (860336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066198)

I believe this all came about because of the HP board of directors having their investigators get the phone records of its employees and some journalists because HP was looking for information leaks.
The investigators did this by pretending to be the people whos phone records they wanted.
They did some research and found out mothers maiden names etc..., and gave sob stories to the customer service folks about why they needed these phone records and got all of the information they wanted.

Re:my thoughts (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066594)

Pretending to be a everyday/normal person - fine

What about pretending to be you? That's how must of this works.

"Hello, yes this is Mr. Stapleton, I need the complete logs of all my internet traffic for the last 4 years. You're pulling it up now? Great, I'll hold... Hello? Yes, great. Yes I do indeed love the gay porn, but can you tell me about my bittorrent traffic though?"

Truth will set you free (4, Insightful)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065794)

If you need to stop something illegal, it shouldn't be necessary to lie and impersonate someone to prevent the activity. Why is it necessary to impersonate another to "think of the children" or to stop illegal downloads? If you have proof of a wrong doing, you take it to a judge, get a warrant, and put an end to it. If you don't have proof, then lets end all the witch hunts.

Fraud - Already a crime? (2, Insightful)

buzdale (943806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065822)

Isn't it already a crime to pass yourself off as someone else? I thought it was fraud.

Re:Fraud - Already a crime? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066152)

Isn't it already a crime to pass yourself off as someone else?

      Only if you're doing it to get money out of it. IANAL but you can call yourself whatever you want. The minute you file a loan or credit card app under someone else's name, however, you're guilty of fraud.

Re:Fraud - Already a crime? (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066636)

"Only if you're doing it to get money out of it."

Which makes this very interesting, because the MPAA IS hoping to get money out of the pretexing, through court extortio... err, court settlements.

Re:Fraud - Already a crime? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17066196)

It's only fraud by definition if there is money involved.

I can make fake IDs all I want, and use them, and I can't be charged with fraud, unless I used them to obtain money. However, if I make a fake government ID, they'll still get me for making a fake ID. But that's not fraud.

pretexting vs security (1)

jbossvi (946552) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065840)

I could never figure out which was worse:
-Someone lying to a third party and social engineering their way into position of trust.
-Or that third parties seem to be more than willing to believe someone on the other side of the phone is whoever they claim to be.

I guess they can make laws to outlaw pretexting (so only criminals do it), or they can let civil lawsuits award large damages to corps that readily believe anyone on the other side of the phone.

sadly I can imaging who's side the lawmakers are on.

MPAA is acting like... (1)

Zx-man (759966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065854)

...they are state's Orwellian "Mincopy". This is just wrong.

Mitnick? (1, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065866)

Anyone else curious about what Kevin Mitnick has to say concerning this?

Re:Mitnick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17066010)

No, not really.

Re:Mitnick? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066068)

Given your choice of AC, I take it you don't know who Kevin Mitnick was...

And don't give me that crap "Of course I know who he is, I've seen The Takedown!" Get out of here with that.

Re:Mitnick? (1)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066100)

Given your choice of AC, I take it you don't know who Kevin Mitnick was...

I'm not an AC, I know who Kevin Mitnick is, and I still don't care what he thinks about this.

Re:Mitnick? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066184)

In that case, my apologies and thanks for answering my post;-)

Re:Mitnick? (1)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066500)

In that case, my apologies and thanks for answering my post;-)

heh, I wasn't the original AC responder, so no need to apologize to me.

Re:Mitnick? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066710)

oh....right...::slowly backs away, turns, and runs off::

Re:Mitnick? (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066114)

No way dude, we all hang out with Kevin Mitnick, not just you... :)

Expecting politicians to make lying illegal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17065878)

...is more foolish than expecting parasites to make sucking illegal.

Wow! only in California... (1)

jmagar.com (67146) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065914)

What's the difference between pretexting, identity theft, and fraud? My guess is that if you pretext as someone who exists (Hello, my name is Bill Gates...) then identity theft? But if I claim to be Gill Bates (weak attempt at a fictional character, sorry to all Gill Bates' out there) then you enter fraud territory. But now what constitutes fraud? Doesn't there have to be a demonstrable harm for Fraud to exist...

I'm not a lawyer, so please explain this stuff to me.

Also it is perfectly legal to have an alias that you are well known for. You can even sign documents under that alias... (At least in Canada... You don't need to officially change your name to go with your "married name" for example)

So perhaps pretexting law deserved to be killed based on the fact that there is little to no harm in it...

Hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17065926)

So if a private investigator uses pretexting to get my medical records, can I sue both the PI and the MPAA? The argument would be that the MPAA directly created the conditions under which the PI was able to access my private medical records, hence they should be liable in a civil case.

TRANSLATION: We NEED to Lie Sometimes! (-1, Troll)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065956)

It's for your own good!!! Just like Newt "mastah" Grinch was saying that we really need to reconsider freedom of speech in today's post 9/11 world lest the terrorists use it to convert farmboys into jihadist anti-Americans. I swear, America is SO fucked up right now and I put that all at the foot of the Bush administration. Racism is soaring to new levels (not that it ever went away but it was previously socially unacceptable in more enlightened times) and membership in the National Socialist Movement (ie. American Nazis) is rapidly growing due to the flag waving idiot contingent railing on about illegal immigrants. The economy sucks. Don't let the idiots fool you. If you aren't involved in investing or tied in with big American business in some way, your economic situation is in the dumper. And don't let me scare you lily-livered liberals, but don't be too happy about the recent elections. Come 2008, if there is any question about why there is a sudden massive swing to the right in poll results thanks to Diebold, you're going to have a hard time questioning it because you DIDN'T complain in the 2006 elections when things went your way. I'm not saying it's a certainty, but if it does happen it's your own damn fault that you didn't question why the Dems took so many seats this time around. I don't think they won fair and square and I'm a liberal. I think it was a set up for something more important to the right wing. So this new failure of the anti-pretexting bill just adds more weaponry to the already very powerful 5% of the wealthiest. Let me ask you this question. WHY should the top 5% have more power than the 95% of us? What's the good reasoning for that? In fact, don't you think it makes MORE sense for people with less money and clout to be granted more powers by society in a way that scales to keep things balanced? Shouldn't the middle class (what's left of it) be able to counter the actions of the powerful and wealthy through legal governmental means? Shouldn't the poor be able to have more control over what happens to them in our society rather than being relegated to the rubbish heap? And shouldn't the wealthy be fairly powerless to affect many people beneath them with an inverse proportion of wealth vs. control over others? If only I could make enough money to leave this stinking shithole. I'd head off to the U.K. or Australia. At least there, they've managed to retain some semblence of socialism in a way that works within a capitalist system. Here it's all gone downhill since Reagan.

Re:TRANSLATION: We NEED to Lie Sometimes! (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066080)

"At least there, they've managed to retain some semblence of socialism"

You complain about the rulers having too much power, and then you express desire for socialism (which is all about empowering the rulers). That is not consistent.

Re:TRANSLATION: We NEED to Lie Sometimes! (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066538)

And shouldn't the wealthy be fairly powerless to affect many people beneath them with an inverse proportion of wealth vs. control over others?

Oh, you mean like... investing in industries and institutions that employ millions of people? I suspect that the high quality nerds that work at, say, Google or Pixar or Red Hat are quite pleased that people who've earned a lot of money have turned around and pumped it into those great projects/enterprises. And all of the people that benefit from doing business with, or providing services to all of those people are probably glad that those investments continue to be made.

I'd head off to the U.K

What's stopping you, really? That you don't do anything that enough people consider valuable enough to command a paycheck that will support your standard of living while also paying the much, much higher taxes? Or, unlike the untold thousands of actually poor people that immigrate to the UK and other western European nations from all over the world, you're actually noble enough to recognize that unless you do do something particularly valuable or are willing to work two or three jobs, you're just going to be living off of the more industrious work of the smaller minority that actually breath some life into the economy and subsidize the socialized niceties you're lusting after?

You say "If I could only make enough money..." without even a hint of what makes you think that, once transplanted in the UK, you'd make more money there (to pay the higher taxes, and more still, to get over how unhappy you are that you're not making enough now). So, really, you just want to go somewhere that will give you more of someone else's money than you're getting here. I do love, though, that you're not apologetic about it: that's the real cure for it - the first step is admitting that you want me to feed you. That you're proud of that is a little baffling, but at least you're saying it out loud.

But, but, but... (4, Insightful)

SengirV (203400) | more than 7 years ago | (#17065980)

Wouldnt' any bill allow for exceptions like the use of pretexting for criminal investigations? Seems like a pretty flimsy excuse for downgrading the bill.

So it all just comes down to who has the biggest pockets.

Current breakdown of the California State Senate - 25 DNCers, 15 GOPers. But I thought only GOPers who bow to big business?

Wake up people, no party is free of Big Business.

Re:But, but, but... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066396)

Wouldnt' any bill allow for exceptions like the use of pretexting for criminal investigations? Seems like a pretty flimsy excuse for downgrading the bill.

Ah, but recall that copyright infringement cases by the *AA's are proceeding in civil court.

Which means an industry has successfully lobbied to be able to lie, cheat, and steal so they can pursue their own agenda -- which has nothing to do with criminal investigations.

It also means that instead of making what the executives at HP did/paid for illegal, they've basically said that companies are allowed to go around doing as they please.

I find this completely appalling.

So? (1)

Weston O'Reilly (1008937) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066032)

Shouldn't we be thanking the MPAA for this? Do we really need one more law that will eventually be used to bite someone in the ass in some unexpected and novel way?

Re:So? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066130)

That's true of most laws. Stuff like the Patriot act, the "assault weapons" ban and the DMCA are all examples of laws that don't trouble a large number of people but under some circumstances and bad interpretation of these laws they could easily turn into monsters. Hell, the assault weapons ban was so open ended that they could have made BB guns illegal with little or no legal resistance.

Re:So? (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066726)

In NYC BB guns ARE illegal. So are airsoft guns. And what's even funnier, is that there is actually no license under which you CAN own a BB gun or an airsoft gun in NYC. You can get a license for a real firearm, but not a replica.

Question (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066038)

after heavy last-minute lobbying by the MPAA

How did state senators know that they were really MPAA lobbyists?

Re:Question (1)

mickisdaddy (892920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066628)

When they got the check!

think of the children (2, Insightful)

PMuse (320639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066154)

In a final 'think of the children' bid, the California Association of Licensed Investigators also opposed the bill, saying it needed to be able to use pretexting to help find missing children, among other things."

Riiiight. Because a carve-out for protecting kids would just have been impossible to write in.

It couldn't be that the real money in PI work might be in divorce/adultery, paparazzi-ing, or industrial disputes.

You can't have it both ways. (3, Interesting)

davermont (1001265) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066220)

On the one hand we have the RIAA trying entrap media pirates under false pretenses. On the other, we have Universal trying to extort royalties for mp3 player manufacturers because they are "repositories for stolen music": http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/29/ 2328222 [slashdot.org] . So I'm supposed to pay a tax on my mp3 player to keep the RIAA at bay, and then go home and not download free music? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

It's all give and take you know... (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066356)

We all need to give up a little of our privacy so that we can secure the interests of our economy. And by our economy, I mean the few people who continue to control our lives for profit while the middle class declines into poverty and debt.

Well that is good news (1)

refriedchicken (961967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066372)

I can still pretend to be your bank to get your information, what a relief, I don't need a real job yet.

It's not that complicated, really (2, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066466)

Deceit in these cases is practiced to obtain information disclosures. It is an imposition of the deciever's wishes over those of the deceived. The question should, then be this: does the deciever have a fundamental right to the information he is seeking?

So, outlaw pretexting except where it is used to obtain information that, if it were in the posession of an officer of the law, that officer would have a duty to disclose.

For example, you are a police officer who finds out Mr. X, who is in a custody dispute with Mrs. X, has kidnapped the children. You would have a duty to disclose to Mrs. X the whereabout of those children.

However suppose you know Mr. X is having an affair with Ms. Y. You have no duty to tell Mrs. X this, and depending on how you found out you may have a duty not to tell.

In the case of the MPAA, if they are seeking evidence that people are illegally sharing materials whose copyright they hold, this is information to which they have a well established legal right. However, they have no right to other kinds of information they could gain by pretexting, such as who your friends are.

By creating exceptions to a law against preteting, we are in a sense deputizing private parties to conduct searches by force. This entails some invasion of privacy. An officer of the law may obtain sensitive private information while executing a warrant, but if the information is not relevant to some sort of crime he may not disclose it. Neither should a private party acting under an exception to the law against pretexting be allowed to go on a fishing expedition.

Therefore groups using pretexting should be forbidden to use any information they gain as a result unless it is relevant to an exempted purpose.

So, if a record company looks for copyright infringement for its copyrights and finds infringement on another company's copyright, that is disclosable. They can't, however, create a database of music preferences for marketing purposes.

Tomorrow's news on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17066480)

"A California anti-assault bill that got unanimous support in the state senate with a vote of 30-0 was struck down after heavy last-minute lobbying by the MPAA. The bill aimed to make causing serious bodily harm to a person illegal. The MPAA told legislators 'We need to break a few kneecaps sometimes to stop illegal downloading,' and thus killed the bill when it came up for a final vote. In a final 'think of the children' bid, the Califonia Association of Licensed Investigators also opposed the bill, saying it needed to be able to beat people senseless to help find missing children, among other things."

Phishing / Social Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17066586)

Funny...i remember back in the days of H/P/A/V/C (or however it went) that things like this were an open secret. Oh, and also assumed illegal. The old-school 'call up someone and pretend to be from the credit card company to get their credit card number/password/etc.' scam. Apparantly this is legal?

Accoding to this I can't pretend to be john smith to get his phone records any more. Ok. But I can still lie and get his bank statement?

When it comes down to it though ... they're trying to make a law to stop people from lying. My parents, despite threats of beatings (and the occasional follow-through), couldn't manage to stop me from lying. How exactly is a law going to do the same? Hell, I can just LIE about LYING. The law would have been good in theory but ... it's incredible stupid when you look at how far it could go.

Let's at least get some "rules of evidence" laws (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066618)

Somehow I don't think it can be easily or casually justified to collect evidence of a crime and/or infringement through deceptive or inappropriate measures. Somehow HP and the parties involved are in serious hot water over their use of pretexting (and by that I mean lying to acquire information to which they are not legally entitled) among other things. I think that if the MPAA were to use the same tactics, it should be equally illegal. So at the very least, if they were to present evidence in court or even as part of a plea or settlement, they should have to disclose the techniques they used to gather the information as proof that they did so legally, ethically and morally.

Not necessarily a problem.... (2, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066690)

... IF the judges in cases involving the MPAA remember that, in order to get this proposed law defeated in California, the MPAA essentially admitted that it lies and falsifies information in the course of a piracy investigation >:)

I can see the court transcript now: Judge: And how, exactly, were you able to obtain this evidence? **AA: Your honor, we lied and falsified information, but everything we tell you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...honest. Judge: Riiiiiiiiight.....

This Will Only Hurt the Poor (1)

Doug Dante (22218) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066722)

This will only hurt the poor. The rich will have the money necessary to setup "blinds" so that they can say, "I got this information from informant X, who I can only contact via e-mail. I'm legally entitled to have it, although I don't know how X got it or where in the world X is."

Illegal corportate tactics vs citizens... (1)

TheRealStyro (233246) | more than 7 years ago | (#17066736)

Yet another case where a corporation has illegally (IMHO) lobbied against a bill that would had been good for the citizens. A bill like this should clear committees then if it fails in house/senate go a voter ballot item. The bill was written for the good of the citizens - it should be voted on by the citizens if it passes legal checks (such as that it does not violate state/federal constitutions).


"Corporations have been enthroned...an era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people...until wealth is aggregated in a few hands...and the Republic is destroyed" - Abraham Lincoln
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